Justice Steward, who was appointed to the Federal Court in February 2018, is a tax law expert and was considered a front-runner from the pool of contenders in Victoria. Mr Porter said Justice Steward would start on December 1 to replace Justice Nettle. His appointment “continues what has been a remarkable, stellar, indeed, career for one of Australia’s leading legal professionals”, Mr Porter said.
He said Justice Gleeson would start on March 1 and the diversity of her “expertise across a number of civil jurisdictions across public and private practice has served the Federal Court incredibly well and will no doubt be a major asset to the High Court”.
“It is not really possible to appoint Justice Jacqueline Gleeson without noting she is the eldest daughter of Murray Gleeson, that places her in a rather unique position,” Mr Porter said. “I am told that is a first in common law countries.”
The new appointments preserve the court’s gender balance of three women and four men. Justice Gleeson becomes the sixth woman to serve on the High Court.
Justice Nettle, a former Victorian Court of Appeal judge, was appointed to the High Court in February 2015 by the Abbott Coalition government and reaches the judicial retirement age of 70 in December. He replaced fellow Victorian Justice Susan Crennan, a former Federal Court judge.
In February 2009 the Gillard Labor government appointed Justice Bell, an experienced criminal lawyer, to the High Court from the ranks of the NSW Court of Appeal upon the retirement of Justice Michael Kirby. Justice Bell became the nation’s fourth female judge, and the third on the bench at the time. She does not reach the mandatory age of retirement until March.
The court has two judges from Queensland, Chief Justice Susan Kiefel and Justice Patrick Keane, two NSW-based judges, Justice Bell and Justice Stephen Gageler, and two from Victoria, Justice Nettle and Justice Michelle Gordon. Justice James Edelman, the court’s youngest recruit, is notionally from Western Australia although he resides in Queensland.
Chief Justice Kiefel is the first woman to serve as chief justice and is the longest-serving member of the court.
More to come.